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Enviros Dismayed After Gov. Newsom Vetoes Arambula’s Air Bill



In his veto message, Gov. Newsom said his administration is "committed" that the Valley Air District is on the right path. (AP File)
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A bill that supporters said would help clean up Central Valley air was vetoed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday, and environmentalists aren’t happy about it.

Newsom said no to AB 2550, authored by Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno.

The bill would have required the California Air Resources Board to intervene if the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District failed to meet certain federal air standards.

In his veto message, Newsom said his administration is “committed” that the local air board is on the right path.

“(State) statute already allows CARB to reject a local air district’s State Implementation Plan element if CARB finds, after a public hearing, that it does not meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act, including if the plan will not provide attainment by the deadline. As such, this bill is unnecessary,” Newsom wrote.

Arambula “Deeply Disappointed”

Arambula, in a statement to GV Wire, said the local air board has been missing the mark for 25 years.

“I’m deeply disappointed that Governor Newsom vetoed my bill, AB 2550, especially since he is a champion in the battle against climate change. Every day, Californians who live in the San Joaquin Valley are plagued by horrible air pollution,” Arambula said.

Arambula said Fresno County residents “breathe the dirtiest air in the nation.”

“We need CARB to more urgently use its tools and authority in our Valley. I will continue to fight for clean air in our region and joining with our advocates to address this crisis. The health, well-being, and lives of our people depend on it,” Arambula said.

Arambula’s full statement can be read here.

Environmental Group Upset

The move did not go over well with environmental groups.

“Governor Newsom failed the breathers of the San Joaquin Valley, especially low-income communities and communities of color who breathe some of the dirtiest air in the nation,” said Dr. Catherine Garoupa White, executive director of the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition, in a news release.

“After decades of failing to meet federal standards for fine particles and ozone pollution, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is empowered to continue its legacy of environmental racism, injustice, and delinquency.”

Air District, Counties Opposed

Nearly all of the Central Valley counties, including Fresno, Kings, Kern, Madera, Tulare, and Merced, opposed the bill.

So did the local air district.

The California Air Pollution Control Officers Association, in a legislative analysis, said local, state, and federal air monitors already have a successful track record of working together to reduce air pollution.

“AB 2550 will not help alleviate the significant air quality challenges California faces because it does not address mobile source emissions. Mobile sources continue to be the largest contributor of criteria pollutant, toxic, and anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions throughout the state,” the group said.

The local air district said they will continue its work with CARB, farmers and other community organizations.

“Through cooperative partnerships in the Valley and with the state, the District will continue working to reduce air pollution, and bring unprecedented levels of clean air resources and attention to our underserved communities,” district spokeswoman Jaime Holt emailed GV Wire.

No Other Local Democrat Support

The bill passed the state Assembly (48-15) and Senate (27-13) on Aug. 25, although it did not receive any other support from the Central Valley delegation.

Other Central Valley Democrats did not support AB 2550, including Assemblymen Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, and Adam Gray, D-Merced, who did not cast a vote. State Sens. Anna Caballero, D-Merced, and Melissa Hurtado, D-Bakersfield, voted no.

Governor Vetoes Patterson’s Solar Bill

Also on Thursday, Newsom vetoed AB 1078 by Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, which would have extended a requirement to include solar on homes rebuilt because of 2020 wildfires.

Newsom applauded the concept, but said it “would increase homeowner energy costs at a time when many homeowners are facing rising electric rates and bills.”

“This exemption also undermines the energy resiliency of homes, especially those in high-fire risk areas, and increases greenhouse gas emissions. Further, this exemption is overly broad and fails to assist those disaster victims who are the most disadvantaged,” Newsom wrote.

The bill wasn’t opposed on the Assembly floor (67-0) and passed the state Senate, 29-4.

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email